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The Rohingya refugee crisis in Burma on key dates

The Rohingya refugee crisis in Burma on key dates

The Myanmar Armed Forces launched a fierce crackdown on the country’s Rohingya Muslim population in 2017, expelling some 740,000 to neighboring Bangladesh.

This Monday, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, officially announced his government’s decision to consider that repression as genocide.

These are the key dates of the crisis:

Military operations

On August 25, 2017, Rohingya militants stage coordinated attacks on police posts in Burma’s Rakhine state, killing at least a dozen officers.

The military retaliates with operations in Rohingya villages, supposedly to drive out insurgents.

It is reported that 400 rebels have been killed, but opponents say most of those killed are civilians.

The UN claims that at least 1,000 people lost their lives in the first two weeks of military operations.

refugee exodus

As of September 5, more than 120,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh, overflowing its poorly equipped refugee camps.

There are already at least 200,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh from previous waves of violence.

Suu Kyi breaks the silence

International anger mounts against Burma. Soldiers are accused of razing Rohingya homes and some world leaders allege “ethnic cleansing”.

In her first statement on the crisis, Burma’s civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi pledges on September 19 to hold human rights violators to account, but refuses to blame the military.

Possible “genocide”

On November 23, Bangladesh and Burma agree to start repatriating refugees.

But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the necessary conditions for their safe return are not in place and the process stops.

The head of human rights of the UN, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warns on December 5 of possible “elements of genocide” and calls for an international investigation.

Courts and sanctions

On August 25, 2018, tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees stage protests to mark the first anniversary of their exodus.

UN investigators are calling for Burma’s army chief and five other top military officials to be brought to justice for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In November, an attempt to repatriate 2,260 Rohingya fails, as they refuse to leave without guarantees of their safety.

Arrested reporters

On September 3, two journalists from the Reuters agency, accused of violating Burma’s state secrets law by reporting on a massacre of Rohingya, are jailed for seven years.

They would spend more than 500 days behind bars before being released thanks to a presidential pardon.

US sanctions

On July 16, 2019, Washington announces sanctions against the head of the Burma Army and three other senior military officials.

Some 3,500 Rohingya refugees are allowed to return home, but none show up to make the journey on August 22.

Legal challenges mount

On November 11, Gambia files a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Burma of genocide for its treatment of the Rohingya.

Three days later, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, gives the green light to a full investigation into the persecution of the Rohingya.

In the same week, a third case is filed by rights groups in Argentina under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Suu Kyi in court

On December 10, Gambia presents its case to the ICJ with Suu Kyi personally leading Burma’s defense.

He refutes the accusations of genocide, denying the “misleading and incomplete” allegations and insisting that Burma is dealing with an “internal armed conflict”.

He admits that the military may have used excessive force.

court sentence

In its judgment of January 23, 2020, the ICJ orders Burma to take urgent measures to prevent the alleged genocide and to report within four months.

no jurisdiction

In February 2021, Burma’s legal team – minus Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest after the military coup – argues that the court does not have jurisdiction over the case and must dismiss it before proceeding to substantive hearings.

ICJ judges must now decide whether the court has jurisdiction to proceed.

USA considers there is genocide

This Monday, March 21, the United States officially declared that the Rohingya have been victims of “genocide” committed by the Burmese army and claims to have evidence that the intention was to “destroy” this Muslim minority.

The evidence shows “a clear intention behind these massive atrocities: to destroy the Rohingya, in whole or in part,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

Source: Gestion

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